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Monday, 13 December 2010

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

A stunning and moving new novel from Michael Morpurgo, the nation's favourite storyteller -- featuring the bravest dog in all the world! This is the story of Aman, as told in his own words -- a boy from Afghanistan fleeing the horror of the Afghan war. When a western dog shows up outside the caves where Aman lives with his mother, Aman is initially repulsed -- it is not customary for people to keep dogs as pets in his part of the world. But when Aman and his mother finally decide to make a bid for freedom, the dog Aman has called will not leave their side. Soon it becomes clear: the destinies of boy and dog are linked, and always will be!
Michael Morpurgo's books are always on subjects which are relevant and thought provoking. When I first picked up this book I was expecting a book about a dog and its owner, however as soon as I started the book, I realised I was in for a completely different story.
The story is told from three points of view: Matt, an English boy who befriends Aman, Grandpa, Matt's Grandfather and Aman; an Afghanistan illegal immigrant who came to England and claimed asylum. At the start of the book, Matt and Aman attend the same school and are friends. Matt is spending the summer at his Grandpa's house which is near to the detention centre where Aman is being detained, along with his mother before being sent back to Afghanistan. Matt and his Grandpa set out to get them released and be allowed to stay in England.
The book focuses a lot on Aman and his mother, their life back in Afghanistan, their journey to reaching England, the violence and the crime of the officials in Afghanistan, and their meeting with 'Shadow' a dog trained to search for IED's. It also tells of the fight Aman and his mum had to stay in the country.
This book has led me to start to understand why so many people are trying to come to England and why they subject themselves to the terrible journeys, risking their lives along the way. It also talked about the strong bond between a person and their dog.
I really enjoyed reading the information pages at the end of the book - which talked about Michael Morpurgo's inspiration for the book, and also about the places included in the book about the detention centres and the history of the war in Afghanistan.
Throughout the book are some stunning pictures, pencil sketches illustrating the story, and enabled me to imagine Aman and Matt in my mind.
I would recommend this book to both children and adults and would be a great introduction into lessons about war zones and asylum seekers. It has left me with much to think about and also about my opinions on the subject of asylum seekers in general.
Thank you to Sarah Benton at Harper Collins Children's for sending me this book to review.

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